Allow use of the microwaves again
Allow use of the microwaves again
A letter from a second-day-reheated-lasagna lover.
Why the microwave ban is detrimental to us as students.
Family, microwaves, Taylor Swift. Three things I’m passionate about, and willing to risk my life for.
I spent most of my life yearning to be able to heat food up at school. Those who knew me in year eleven knew it wasn’t prom or wearing my own clothes that excited me and drove me towards the end of the year – it was being able to bring in pasta for school and heat it up.
And it was bliss. Those six months in junior sixth where I’d bring in a myriad of delicious meals to pop in the microwave for a few minutes were some of the best times of my life. That tiny ping signalled the start of fresh conversations, sweet catchups and a relaxed but fun atmosphere where friends can bond, sat over their own variety of hot meals. No one was unhappy, because everyone could eat what they wanted.
Alas, coronavirus came and swept the nation. A further six months of lockdown wasn’t enough to rid me of my fond memories of jacket potatoes and mushroom rice. But then, the email came. ‘Microwaves cannot be used’. My heart sank. It can’t be that bad, I wondered, I managed to survive before… but I was so wrong.
Whilst in younger years cold lunches were fine, they couldn’t compare to the expectations I had set myself from half a year of divine ecstasy found in reheated noodles. Besides that, the new restrictions and environment in the sixth form centre mean cold lunches become an absurd idea.
The lack of table-and-chair seating means food options are limited to start. Whilst I might have been able to indulge in a mix and match lunchbox with sandwiches and finger food from years 9 to 11, this is difficult sat squished on a sofa – it’s hard for me to wash my hands between every bite when my food is balanced on my lap and I’m readjusting.
Next, the need for hot lunches is integral. To have a sandwich or a cold salad every day is foolish. It’s a kick in the guts for anyone who has allergies or dietary restrictions that would struggle to buy food in the canteen. Hot food and cold food are incomparable. A hearty salad and meal eaten with a fork feels totally different to a couple of easy peelers (which I found myself having to pull together for a lunch as I’m already running out of ideas).
The new structure of lunch means it’s more likely that hot food from the canteen will be more difficult to attain. Some people might feel uncomfortable eating food that’s being ‘warmed’ over the hours of lunch, with no knowledge as to how it’s being kept sanitary in today’s health crisis. The queues being formed also results in close contact which could be quickly cut down with the access to microwaves.
Another reason why microwaved food is far, far superior is simply due to the health benefits. Whilst I’d agree that we shouldn’t base every single meal choice on the most nutritious perfect choice, I’d struggle to eat chips every lunch and feel comfortable in myself. It’s clear that food choices that make you feel good will improve your mood, and I’m not sure some rice or a greasy hot dog every day will make me the happiest I could be. Whilst school food can be delicious, I still believe the choice should be made available.
Before I continue, I should bring attention to the environmental impact of this virus. Plastic waste is rocketing, and the single-use cutlery being served at school is nothing less than upsetting. I know it’s for good reason, but it’s upsetting to see so much wasted, scattered around behind tables and chairs. The littering is one problem we need to sort out, but the environmental impact can be reduced with the freedom of microwaves. Microwaved food, especially leftovers, for example, can reduce food waste, and are often brought in reusable Tupperware, in contrast to some of the cold home-brought options which normally involve cellophane or plastic packaging from the supermarket sandwiches.
Now you understand why we need microwaves; I can emphasise why any counter-arguments are quickly made redundant.
1. ‘The button use involves contact and can spread germs’
Whilst this may be true, there are so many other buttons we are touching that we have simply been trusted to use. Hand sanitiser stations or even gloves could be placed next to the machine to eliminate this.
2. ‘It would involve mingling between the two year-groups’
The ‘grouping’ and separation of J6 and S6 seems effective on paper, however, it’s clear looking around the common room it is not working out to be the most effective. Whilst I certainly endorse the idea and think it is going to massively help prevent the spread of germs, we cannot blame a microwave button on the transference of germs from one year to another, when we are all touching the same toilet flush, the same doors, the same pin codes, tables, chairs, sinks, and especially the water jugs which I am certain are not being wiped down between usage. I would encourage the two microwaves to be separated by year. This would easily prevent the transference of germs if need be.
3. ‘The food inside would be contaminated’
Year 7 food safety lessons taught me that microwaving food will help to kill the bacteria present. Microwaved food is definitely going to have fewer germs on it than some soggy cold rice sat in my locker for half the day. Along with this, coronavirus has shown no evidence to be transmitted through the consumption of food. (‘Coronavirus and Food’, Food Standards Scotland)
The allowance of microwaves would only be a beneficial one, and in these trying times, a little bit of hope could be awarded to us students through a hot chocolate or two as we stress through tricky A-Levels and the increasing anxieties we face every day.